Speaking with reporters this week, NASA science chief Thomas Zurbuchen wanted to make one thing crystal clear: If Elon Musk’s SpaceX program can bring samples from Mars back to Earth before NASA can, the space agency would be more than happy with a second-place trophy.
“If Elon Musk brought the samples in the door right now I'd throw him a party out of my own money," Zurbuchen said. (Knowing how much government employees typically make, that’s saying a lot.)
"I think that would be a huge success out of the strategies that were pursued by this administration of helping … the private industry to really grow capabilities that 10 years ago were not around," he continued.
Musk has not as yet publicly responded to NASA’s open door policy for the red planet. Who do you think will come home with a bathing suit filled with Martian sand first, the government or the billionaire tech wizard?